View west in the middle of the Strawberry Narrows, 4.7 miles into the ride at altitude 7700 feet. Photos and trail description by Bruce, June 25, 2009.
The Strawberry Narrows Trail is a 12-mile singletrack that skirts the southern edge of the
narrow band of water joining Strawberry Reservoir to Soldier Creek Reservoir. It begins at
the Aspen Grove Marina on the east end of Soldier Creek and ends at the Renegade Point marina
at the southwest corner of Strawberry. Average altitude is 7500 feet.
The trail is usually done as an out-and-back from the eastern end. Some riders like a point-to-point
with shuttle vehicle or "significant other" pickup.The whole trail as an out-and-back is 24 miles with around 2200 feet of climbing. But shorter
rides are possible, and most riders will select one of these. For less-strong riders, four
miles to the overlook and back is satisfying. For strong riders, 8 miles to Poison Ridge and
View north over Soldier Creek as we ride westbound at the trail's eastern end.
A boat heads west in the narrows ahead of us as the trail rolls through the fir trees on the mountain side.
You'll climb from the lake surface to 400 feet above (a couple of times), plus rolling up-and-down
riding. The singletrack is narrow with encroaching berry bushes and baby aspen. The trail is
intermediate technical, nothing tricky. There's one half-mile section of steep side-slope.
Few riders will want to do the entire trail. The western end is 4 miles of sage brush -- and
swamp, depending on the time of year. If you happen to be camped at the west end or are doing
a point-to-point, fine, ride it. But if you're driving to Strawberry specifically to enjoy
this trail, I suggest you start at the eastern (Soldier Creek) end and turn around at Poison
Ridge for a 16 mile out-and-back with 1600 vertical.
View down the trail as we head through an aspen grove.
In the narrows, the terrain varies from grass meadow to sage to aspen to shady fir forest.
The eastern 8 miles of the trail is absolutely beautiful. You'll roll up and down through aspen
and fir forest, with frequent breakouts into small meadows overlooking the lake. The trail
twists into side canyons and crosses a couple of small creeks.There are a few very short grunt climbs, but most of the riding is gentle climbing and descending.
Views are terrific.
The sun-exposed areas are thick with wildflowers. Even the sagebrush flats had plenty of lupine
and sticky geranium. In areas of mixed aspen and fir, wild raspberry bushes and snowberry flank
Near a bridge over a creek, spawning trout jockey for position in a pool below a small waterfall. This photo was from 2009. On the exact same date in 2018, this creek was bone dry.
A pelican cruises near shore as the trail drops through the sage brush to the shoreline on Strawberry.
Navigation from the eastern end is very straight-forward, once you find the trail. There are
plenty of trail markers, including mile markers to let you know how far you've come.
For an adventure, consider bicycle camping. There are primitive (pack in, pack out) camping
spots near both entrances to the narrows.
Handlebar view as the trail skirts a side canyon. The creek feeding this bay was thick with two-foot spawning trout. (Note: it's illegal to fish for, or mess with the spawning fish in the creeks. Unless you're a bear.)
This is the western end. Miles of sage flat. Do it, if you want to say you've ridden the whole thing.
In 2009, I found the western end of the trail to be seriously overgrown with sage and grass
-- about as close to "not trail" as a trail can get. But it should improve in later summer
as more people use the trail. About two miles from the west end, the trail disappeared into
water three times. In other areas, the trail was merely a linear "thin spot" in the brush,
completely grown over by grass. Many eastbound riders will skip the official trailhead and
drop in from Big Springs (see directions below).
This is a must-ride trail. Beautiful scenery, fun riding. For early-intermediates, the ride
to the overlook is fairly plush, 8 miles round trip. Stronger riders will like the out-and-back
to Poison Ridge.
Cranking up Poison Ridge. Once you get to the top, it's a good spot to say "I'm here" and turn around for the out-and-back.
Strawberry Narrows, east to west, with
loop at west end:
0.0 Find ST trail at NE corner of Aspen Grove Marina parking
N40 07.682 W111 02.209
(Parking here requires fee. Go
0.3 miles up road for rough parking.)
0.3 Reach DT, continue SW direction on DT
N40 07.851 W111 02.316
0.8 Sharp R on ST (if you reach fence, go back!)
N40 07.554 W111 02.706
1.2 Badger Point, trail turns L
1.7 Primitive camping area on R, N40 07.680 W111 03.059
2.5 Entering narrows area
4.8 Viewpoint west over narrows, N40 07.469 W111 04.837
6.2 Fork R, small bridge over stream, N40 07.159 W111 05.738
7.3 Primitive camping area on R, N40 07.624 W111 06.363
8.0 Poison Ridge, view of Strawberry, consider turnaround
N40 07.813 W111 06.995
9.5 Keep L at fork, continue on ST, N40 06.726 W111 07.803
9.9 Cross creek (may need to detour upstream) N40 06.813 W111 08.146 10.0 More water, go around,
N40 06.898 W111 08.169 11.4 Cross trail (L = up to road TH), N40 07.032 W111 08.956 12.0 Marina,
go L up road, N40 07.460 W111 09.188 12.3 Turn L (gravel road), N40 07.292 W111 09.317 12.8
Pass pullout for alternate TH, N40 06.991 W111 08.967 14.1 Fork L on narrower road, N40 05.905
W111 09.017 14.9 Enter Big Spring area, ignore first couple of spurs 15.1 Fork L as main road
turns from NE to east, before it turns SE again. DT goes straight north. N40 05.635 W111 08.230
15.2 Wood fence, go through 16.4 Barrier fence, go around, N40 06.653 W111 07.875 Find ST 100
feet downhill, turn R = original route N40 06.726 W111 07.803 26.0 Back at Aspen Grove Marina
Yes, this is the trail at the western end. Later in the summer, the water will retreat.
On US 40, go eastbound up Daniel's Canyon and cross the summit. Continue on US 40 past Strawberry
Reservoir. Pass the Soldier Creek campground, then 1/2 mile later turn right toward Soldier
Creek Dam (road fork is N40 10.960 W111 01.690). After 3.3 miles, keep R at the fork and continue
toward the dam and marina. At 4 miles from US 40, turn R and go across the dam. At 5.2 miles,
you reach the intersection for the Aspen Grove campground (left) and the marina (right). Park
at the marina if you've paid the fee. Find the ST trail at the northwest corner of the parking
area N40 07.682 W111 02.209. (For free parking but a shorter ride, continue another 0.3 miles
on the paved road. Just after the road turns to the left, exit on dirt doubletrack N40 07.851
W111 02.316. You can park here and ride SE on the DT, or drive the DT 1/2 mile to a wide spot
in the DT (do not go through the gate in the fence) N40 07.554 W111 02.706. Backtrack about
50 feet to find the ST heading north.)
On US 40, go eastbound up Daniel's Canyon and cross the summit. 4.7 miles after the summit,
turn R on the main Strawberry road. Continue south toward Indian Creek at the far southeast
corner of the reservoir. Turn right at the marina and park there if you've paid the fee. The
trail is at the northeast corner at the top of the boat ramp N40 07.460 W111 09.188. For free
parking, continue straight past the marina turnoff and go 0.7 miles on gravel road. Park at
the pullout on your left N40 06.991 W111 08.967. Drop 0.1 mile down the trail and watch for
the Narrows trail as it crosses at N40 07.032 W111 08.956. Turn R.
We're heading back now, eastbound. This is the view from Poison Ridge as we again enter the narrows.
Just for fun. This is not a rock. It's a giant member of the fungus family growing on the side of the trail.
Continue past the Renegade Point marina as above, then fork left on a smaller dirt road after
1.9 miles at N40 05.905 W111 09.017. Go exactly 1.0 miles up the dirt road, ignoring a couple
of spurs. At a spot where the road turns right (from northeast to southeast, fork left at N40
05.635 W111 08.230. Go about 1/4 mile. Find a spot to park near the log fence and continue
Bathrooms and water are available at the marinas at each end of the trail. Note that these
are fee areas -- but at the Aspen Grove marina, you don't need to purchase a pass while you
shop at the general store so you can hit the bathroom after buying your granola bar.